In what could have been a season of unequivocal triumph for Red Bull Racing, a glaring disparity between championship leader Max Verstappen and his teammate Sergio Perez has become a substantial concern, according to Team Principal Fred Vasseur.
Despite fielding an indomitable RB19 this season, Red Bull is poised to achieve an unprecedented season’s whitewash after securing victories in the initial 12 races of the championship.
This achievement places the team on track for a consecutive championship double, along with an imposing 1-2 lead in the Drivers’ standings.
Nevertheless, the Red Bull team’s remarkable trajectory appears to be facing a potential hurdle – the performance of their second driver, Sergio Perez.
After a promising start to the season, Perez encountered a significant setback when he crashed during the qualifying session of the Monaco Grand Prix.
This incident led to a loss of trust in the car and a subsequent inability to qualify for Q3 in five successive races.
This decline not only distanced Perez from Verstappen in the championship race but also jeopardised his second-place position in the standings.
Despite recent signs of recovery, including consecutive podium finishes in Hungary and Belgium, Perez’s struggles continue to highlight the team’s relative weaknesses.
The formidable strength of the Red Bull team has drawn attention from rival team bosses, with Ferrari’s Fred Vasseur openly addressing the discrepancy between the two teammates.
“When you see the result that race after race there is a big difference between the two teammates, but this is not my issue, it is the issue of Red Bull,” Vasseur stated.
Vasseur hypothesised that the gap in performance could be attributed, in part, to the setup of the RB19 chosen by the drivers.
He emphasised the integral role of the driver in both car development and setup, underscoring the significant impact on overall performance.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff echoed these sentiments, expressing concerns over Perez’s inability to challenge Verstappen and thereby deliver a captivating two-car rivalry for the championship.
Drawing comparisons between Mercedes’ past dominance and the current situation at Red Bull, Wolff reminisced, “I don’t know whether our dominance was similar or less. I think we had years where we did it in the same way.”
He emphasised that Mercedes’ advantage was tempered by the presence of two competitive cars, which added to the excitement for Formula 1 enthusiasts.
In contrast, the lack of such competition is evident in the current Red Bull scenario.